The NFL hired its first Black female official for the 2021 football season
- The NFL announced Maia Chaka as the first Black female official in the league's history.
- Chaka previously worked as an official for Conference USA and the Pac-12 football conferences.
- She also participated in the NFL's Officiating Development Program for seven years.
The NFL hired a Black woman to its officiating roster for the 2021 football season, making her the first Black female official in league history, the league announced on March 5. She will also become the second female official in the NFL's over 100-year history.
Maia Chaka, 38, previously officiated for NCAA football in the Conference USA and Pac-12 Conference as well as a brief stint with the XFL. She also participated in the NFL's Officiating Development Program for seven years, where she briefly worked as an official in NFL preseason games.
Troy Vincent Sr., NFL's executive vice president of Football Operations, congratulated Chaka in a statement and said her previous experience working with the league as a reason for her hiring, also noting that Chaka's hiring occurred during Women's History Month.
"Maia's years of hard work, dedication, and perseverance - including as part of the NFL Officiating Development Program - have earned her a position as an NFL official, Vincent said. "As we celebrate Women's History Month, Maia is a trailblazer as the first Black female official and inspires us toward normalizing women on the football field."
-NFL (@NFL) March 5, 2021
"I am honored to be selected as an NFL official," Chaka said. "But this moment is bigger than a personal accomplishment. It is an accomplishment for all women, my community, and my culture."
When not officiating, Chaka teaches health and physical education at Renaissance Academy in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a job she's held for more than 14 years. The school specializes in teaching students with academic and behavioral issues, something that Chaka has said helps her while on the field.
"You're constantly putting out fires with students or whatever it is," Chaka told USA Today. "Once you get to the field, it's nothing to put out disagreements between players, coaches, or whatever."
Chaka's hiring comes just weeks after NFL official Sarah Thomas broke barriers of her own to become the first woman on a Super Bowl officiating crew. Thomas was also the first female official in league history.
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